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Mental health first aid training to be offered to the general public

LACONIA — By the close of the week three clinicians at Genesis Behavioral Health will become certified Mental Health First Aid Instructors equipped to train others from all walks of life to recognize and respond to someone on the verge of crisis arising from mental illness or substance abuse.

"This is really the first step toward destigmatizing mental illness," said Maggie Pritchard, executive director of Genesis.

This week the New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association (CBHA), consisting of the 10 community mental health centers in the state, in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is hosting the first statewide training program offered in the country. Pritchard said that each community mental health center allotted three places in the program. Once certified, she added, each trainer will provide at least three training sessions in their agency's catchment area.

"This training is for anyone," Pritchard said, "from police and corrections officers to store owners, school teachers and family members. Anybody likely to deal with someone with mental illness. It will help get people get treatment, in the right place at the right time," she added. "So much of what we do is reactive. This is a pro-active approach."

Jay Couture, president of the CBHA, said that "this training program will elevate the role of first aid for mental health, in the same fashion that first aid is used to address medical injuries and other healthcare emergencies."

Those who undergo the training will be prepared to teach others how to recognize the symptoms of mental illness, alleviate an emergent crisis and make a referral to appropriate services. Students are taught a five-step action plan with the acronym 'AGLEE," that consists of assessing the risk, listening non-judgementally, giving reassurance, encouraging professional help and encouraging self-help. Since Mental Health First Aid originated in 2008, some 2,500 instructors have trained more than 100,000.

Pritchard credited United States Senator Kelly Ayotte with expanding the program. "Senator Ayotte really got on the bandwagon after Sandy Hook," she explained. With Senator Mark Begich (D-Arkansas), she sponsored the Mental Health First Aid Act, which by establishing the training program ensured future funding for the initiative. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster, all New Hampshire Democrats, supported the legislation.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 12:28

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Lakeport purse snatching thwarted by determined neighbor

LACONIA — A unidentified Lakeport man assisted an elderly woman yesterday by chasing down the man who allegedly stole her purse while she was sitting outside of her apartment building.

Police said Joshua A. Fox, 33, who has had addresses in Meredith, Laconia and Claremont was "visiting" with some of the residents of the Lake Village Apartments on Union Avenue when he allegedly stole an older woman's pocketbook.

Sgt. Dennis Ashley said witnesses said Fox acted like he was helping the woman get up from her chair when he is said to have grabbed her purse and began running down Union Avenue.

When the other people sitting outside with her began yelling, Ashley said one of the young men who lives in the neighborhood of Lakeport Square gave chase down Union Avenue toward Circle K (Irving).

Ashley said Officer Bryan Moynihan had just finished investigating a minor car accident and was in the parking lot of Circle K, a distance of about half a mile from the apartment building, when Fox and his pursuer got close to the store.

Ashley said Fox saw the cruiser and headed into the woods up and behind Circle K when the neighbor chasing him alerted Moynihan. He said Moynihan chased Fox into the woods and caught him.

Somewhere along the way, Fox allegedly threw away the pocketbook but police recovered it. When police interviewed the victim she said that the only thing that was missing was some cash — two $5 dollar bills and seven $1 dollar bills.

When police did an inventory search on Fox, Ashley said the only cash they allegedly found on him was two $5 bills and seven $1 dollar bills.

Fox was charged with one count of theft (purse snatching) and released on personal recognizance bail.

Ashley said the victim, who is in her 80s, was unharmed. He also added it's nice to see neighbors looking out for one another and especially to see the younger people in the area helping the older people.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 12:26

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'Cow' found on Indian Island; cone still missing

MEREDITH — With the help of some as yet unknown perpetrators, "Betsy" the cow that usually adorns the front of Flurries restaurant near the center of Meredith, spent a Saturday night and Sunday on Indian Island in Meredith Bay, under the watch of the Chief Chocorua.

Flurries manager Krista Landry said "Betsy" and the ice cream cone that usually decorates the front of the business were removed so owner Steve Fields could have the building painted. The cow and the ice cream cone were being stored behind the restaurant.

When employees arrived on the morning of July 6, they noticed both were missing.

Landry said at first they were furious. They notified police and posted a notice of their Facebook page seeking information and offering a reward for any information.

She said someone called them and told them "Betsy" had made her way to Indian Island. The cone, however, is still missing.

Meredith Police Sgt. Mike Harper said he took the police boat and went to Indian Island Monday and recovered "Betsy." He said yesterday that the cow is in the police station and he expects the owner to pick it up sometime soon.

Unfortunately, said Harper, the cone is still missing.

Harper said the cow is a fiber glass shell and weighs practically nothing. He said it's about seven or eight feet long but who ever took it could easily have gotten it to Indian Island.

The cone, he said, is very heavy and he thinks it likely sank somewhere in the lake. He said he and a fellow officer took the police boat out again yesterday but were unable to locate it.

Harper said if the cone is in the water, it is likely to stay there.

He said police are treating this as a theft and ask that if anyone has any information about the whereabouts of the cone to call Meredith Police at 279-4561.

CUTLINE: "Betsy" the cow that usually adorns the top of Flurries restaurant in Meredith leans against Chief Chocorua on Indian Island after being taken there Sunday night by pranksters. (Krista Landry photo)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 12:19

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Wed. storm uprooted 6 trees on Gilford Town Beach

GILFORD — Although the Department of Parks and Recreation hasn't gotten any official notice that there was a "micro burst" or similar weather event Wednesday evening, a storm did knock down six trees at the town beach on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Department Manager Herb Greene said the safety crew had heard the lightning reports and had already closed the beach about an hour before the storm blew through.

He said the crews were still there and took refuge in the beach house about 100 yard from the old playground. He said six trees all fell after being blown in the same direction. He said they landed on some playground equipment.

Greene said the equipment is fairly sturdy and he doesn't expect there to be any permanent damage.

Department of Public Works Operations Manager Mia Gagliardi said town crews are slated to remove the trees but have been kept busy taking care of trees that blew down in the same area of town — some of which knocked out power and damaged some houses on Varney Point.

A resident of the Varney Point area said yesterday that his neighbor's gutter was knocked off by a tree that blew down and there were branches and limbs strewn around his neighborhood.

Gagliardi said that if the property owner wants the trees for burning, they can have them but the ones that fell at Gilford Beach will be chipped up using the town chipper.

CAPTION ( tree blow down Gilford BEach) Six trees that were blown down last Wednesday night in a brief but powerful storm that slammed through the area remain on Gilford Beach yesterday morning. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 12:49

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